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Teaching From Debbie Caffrey's Books

An Alaskan Sampler

Supply List

BOOK, An Alaskan Sampler, by Debbie Caffrey

FABRICS, as stated on page 6. You may want to select your sashing and border fabrics after constructing most of your blocks.

ROTARY CUTTER, MAT, & RULERS THREAD to blend with your fabrics QUICK QUARTER TOOL, optional THE ANGLER®, optional

CHACO-LINER, PENCIL, or other for marking the wrong side of your fabric


Please read the first nine pages of the book before cutting. Note that there are instructions for two quilts. Be sure that you cut for the size quilt you are making!

The first class session focuses on the quick piecing techniques. Precut the blocks that are listed below. Label the pieces and keep each block in a separate bag or envelope. Bring your rotary tools and excess fabric to class even though you have precut these blocks.

Pioneer block North Wind/Ocean Waves
Big Dipper
Spawning Sockeyes
Land of the Midnight

Class Outline and Teaching Aid

Because of my heavy teaching schedule, I limit this class to three sessions that are each three hours long with two weeks between them, or two all day sessions. The two full days can be back to back, but are more effective if there is time between them for the quilters to catch up on the first and prepare for the second. More class sessions would be a welcomed luxury, so if you can offer them, your students will appreciate it.

Add your instructor's name and number to the bottom of the supply list. Copy it and hand it out at the time they sign up for class. Unless you are using this pattern as a basic quilting class, in which case you would have numerous class sessions, have them purchase, prewash, press, and precut their fabrics prior to class. They need only to cut the blocks listed on the supply list. If you are doing an all day session you may want to add the Forget-Me-Nots to the list.

Class 1

Be prepared with samples to demonstrate each of the quick piecing techniques. Allow about 30 minutes per block on the average. Many won't finish the blocks, so reassure them that you know how frustrating it is to stop in the middle and move on to the next one, but it's necessary in order to get through all seven methods. You may promote the use of the Quick Quarter Tool for Methods #2 & #3, and The Angler for Methods #6 & #7.

• Demonstrate Method #1 . Ask the class to piece the Pioneer block.

• Demonstrate Methods #2 & #3. Ask the class to piece a North Wind block. The speedy ones may finish several or even the Ocean Waves block. Tell them that this block is deceivingly difficult, and that is why you chose to do it in class where they have your help. From a teaching point, I think it's one of the most challenging in the quilt.

• Demonstrate Method #4. Ask them to piece the Big Dipper. A welcomed relief after the last block!

• Demonstrate Methods #5 & #6. Ask them to piece the Spawning Sockeyes.

• Demonstrate Method #7. Show them how it is used for the Land of the Midnight Sun, the Land of the Midday Moon, and the Forget-Me-Nots blocks. There probably won't be much time for them to sew after this.

Reserve 15-20 minutes at the end of class to discuss the following.

Tell them that they now have the skills to complete the blocks that they have started and the following ones, too. They should make them at home prior to the next class.

Fox and Geese Chainsaw
Bear's Paw Berry Picking
Flying Geese

Ask them to cut all of the remaining blocks. Discuss options for templates, such as, freezer paper, Xeroxing (but check carefully against the original for distortion!), or template plastic, which I only use on rare occasions and certainly not for blocks that I am only constructing once.
Tell those who are making the random sizes of blocks that it would be a good idea for them to make their borders before the last class. That way you can help make them equal sizes, i.e., the Log Cabin border must be the same length as the Delectable Mountains, and the Flying Geese border must be the same length as the Timberline border.

Finally, give them free reign to complete as many of the blocks as they can. Suggest that they precut and leave the piecing of the following ones for the second class.

Snowflake Northern Lights
Moose Tracks

Class 2

Have show & tell. Review any problems that they have had to this point.

Demonstrate options for appliqueing the leaves of the Forget-Me-Nots.

Demonstrate the Snowflake block. Using a 60 degree triangle tool with the template taped to the under side really helps with the cutting. Ask them to piece it.

Demonstrate the Northern Lights block. Check for precision in their template cutting. If the narrow points are cut too wide it will be very difficult to accomplish good points on the star. Ask them to piece it.

Demonstrate the Moose Tracks block. Suggest they piece the J/K sections first since their curve is gentler and easier to do than the L7M section. Ask them to piece it.

At the end of class, in preparation for the last session, discuss the setting information for both quilts. Those who are making the traditional sampler and have most all of their blocks finished can cut their sashing prior to the next class. Some may need your help in selecting fabrics now or in the next session. Check the precision of those who are making the lap quilt. If their blocks are consistent and correct, tell them they can cut the filler strips before the next class. If they need help fitting the blocks together because their piecing precision was less than desired, suggest that they bring the blocks and fabric for the filler strips to class so you can assist them, and tell them not to precut them.

Class 3

Use this class session to tie up loose ends.

Those students making the traditional sampler may want your assistance in selecting sashing, cornerstone, and border fabrics.

Those students making the lap quilt will need help assembling the top and making the borders equal sizes. To make the Log Cabin and Delectable Mountain borders equal, adjust the Log Cabin border by adding or deleting logs. This is much easier than trying to adjust the Delectable Mountain border. To make Timberline and the Flying Geese borders equal, adjust the "trunk sections" of the trees. This seems to be the easiest place to make the changes.

Remind those who make the lap quilt to leave 1/4" beyond the quilt top when trimming away excess backing and batting to allow for the 1/2" binding. (See BINDING on page 29.)

Final Words

Classes 2 and 3 must be combined if you are working with two full day workshops. They will need to do much of class 3's activities on their own.

As I mentioned at the beginning, more class sessions would be great. This could easily be stretched into six or eight classes. Some shops have used the pattern as a basis for block a month. I suggest two blocks a month so that the quilt can be finished within a year! I require that each student purchase a copy of the book. Separate blocks may not be copied for this use. Consider making separate kits for the blocks or a Sourdough Starter kit (just the contrasting fabrics/no background, borders, etc.).